Are Preferential trade Agreements with Non-trade Objectives a Stumbling Block for Multilateral Liberalization?
Increasingly, in regional agreements, large economies offer lower trade barriers in exchange for cooperation in environmental, intellectual property and other issues by small economies. What is the effect of such agreements on multilateral trade liberalization? We show that, even in the absence of trade creation or diversion, regional agreements increase the cost of multilateral tariff reductions. Such reductions decrease the threat large countries can use in regional agreements causing a loss in regional bargaining power. By explicitly modeling the interaction between regional and multilateral negotiations we show that this result is due to the WTO's most-favorite nation rules and analyze the welfare effects of strengthening and weakening them. Moreover, we show that "deepening" duty-free regional agreements requires increases in multilateral tariffs.
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